Trucker gets 11 years in prison after fatal I-40 crash

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Ronald Eugene Graybeal, 52

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. — A truck driver has been sentenced to more than 11 years in prison in connection with a fatal pile-up on I-40 near Chapel Hill two years ago, authorities said.

WRAL reported that Ronald Eugene Graybeal, 52, of Newport, Tenn., pleaded guilty to three counts of involuntary manslaughter and misdemeanor charges of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

He initially was charged with three counts of felony death by motor vehicle.

State Highway Patrol troopers say on June 30, 2001, Graybeal was traveling westbound on I-40 near U.S. 15/501, when he crashed into a line of stopped traffic, killing three people.

An investigation determined that Graybeal’s tractor-trailer hit four stopped vehicles at 65 mph. The chain-reaction wreck that ensued caused one vehicle to burst into flames.

It was reported that Gary Dwayne Smith, 45, of Burlington, died in the burning vehicle, and John Hall Llanio, 38, of Kannapolis, and Barbara Boda Caldwell, 64, of Mebane, also were killed.

Investigators said Graybeal was under the influence of drugs at the time of the wreck.

Source: WRAL